Blognotes from a photographer life...

Dec 31, 2009


2010 is almost here... welcome! 2010 will reveal us some important news.. News about what our job will really need to become to survive. And what our life will become if we really want to follow up the news. Some guys are already opting for the way back: film, black and white, and a different job to make enough money to live. Others are decidedly going forward: photo, video, audio, mixed together and web-ready. Some keep covering news, in a good way sometimes, and wish for the world to show some interest. Many seat and wait. They wait to see where we are really heading, planning to join on the way. As usual they will not make it.
Me? Well, "me" is planning to keep doing what "me" likes, finds interesting, and hopes others will find interesting too. Mostly "me" will try to put a lot of evolution in his photographic style, in his way to show a situation and his way to tell a story.
2010 will be a difficult year. But is in difficult times that the best comes out, or disappear forever. Happy 2010!

Dec 25, 2009


Many (but really many, many) years ago, feels like another life, while shooting the book on LA for Bonechi publisher, I was driving with my friend Graziano my convertible on the Ventura Highway going to Santa Barbara to visit my friends at Islands magazine. Then the radio played Ventura Highway by the America, and, gosh, the feeling for two former DJ was amazing.. like being in the real thing come true from just a song..
Yesterday I had almost the same feeling hearing the children of the Christian school just outside my window in Bangkok singing Christmas songs. Well, honestly my first reaction was "I can't escape X-mas even in Buddhist Thailand!" But then, well, I had to realize that the world is coming to this. This amazing mix of cultures and traditions that will make everybody better (??!!??)...
It's useless to escape life.. Better try to understand and embrace it with all what it takes.. After all, before Christians transformed it, this was the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, the beginning of nature rebirth after the fall.. Let's look at it this way.. I don't know how real this rebirth will be in our world, but better be part of it then consider it an alien celebration..
So, "Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence"...

Dec 23, 2009


I was at a documentary photography show here in Bangkok recently. Some well known photographers (I'll skip the names) are exposing some strong images of news events around the region. At first I was impressed, but then the familiar sensation of uneasiness came to me.
The photos were perfect, just too perfect. Perfect balance in light, composition, combination. Nothing against it, of course: I am a strong supporter of well composed images. But I find questionable the intentions behind them. After many years of profession, living in the photography environment, doing and seeing workshops, I know that the photo itself is the real scope of many authors. The suffering of the subjects is just an excuse, a drama addition to a purely aesthetic project.
I think a great misunderstanding has developed in the photographer's scope. The famous photos of Life magazine, the perfectly composed Ethiopia and Workers images of Sebastiao Salgado, have been seen as something different from their journalistic message. Photography has become self-referential. This is a major problem that, I think, will lead to the end of photojournalism as a real profession leaving only artists on the way.
One should be honest in declaring his own intentions. Too much talking about style and technique and no mention of the situations photographed is a clear sign of this trend. Years ago, Alexandra Boulat, while we were teaching at TPW, talked to me after my slide show. She had the same feeling I had and criticized the easiness with which a tragic moment can add strength to an image. Her photos were journalistic, she died searching stories, not aesthetic options.
Young photographers should keep this in mind. Using the suffering of people as a mere addendum to their composition is not only ethically unfair, is also the betrayal of a honest documentary photographer.

Dec 14, 2009


Sorry guys, no printed calendar for 2010! We have to save money to keep the studio going! But I asked Walter (Manolesta) to design one for your desktop anyway.. Not same same, as they say here, but better then nothing!
You can download the images from my website at THIS LINK in different formats, depending on your screen. Only the largest are full frame, otherwise they are cropped.
If you encounter any problem let me know. Thanks! And let's wish ourself a better 2010. As Garfield says "good times are in the past, good times are ahead, one thing is sure, they are not here right now!"

Dec 13, 2009


Just back in Bangkok after two weeks in Burma. I find the modern city a bit deceiving. Over the border the air is less tense then usual, and bits of openings are clear. You can have a telephone card, although very limited; you can browse most of the Internet except sensible sites; you can use your GMail account (all the others are blocked, probably because checking a single one is easier). People are also much more relaxed and hopeful: next year elections are seen as a great opportunity, even if other occasions have failed in the past. But to a more attentive look you can't miss the obvious: the menacing grim on the soldier faces; the privileges that the few in the establishment have, preserve and show-off; the sense of fear that emerges when one's feel has gone "too far".
Once again I understand that the international community may push the military rulers to release some of the control, convince China that it's control would be not compromised by a bit of freedom, but in the end only the people could change things. That people have the government they deserves is a fact. Burmese are really lacking the urge to react, the will to change for good. It's true that the country separation in major ethnic groups plays in the hands of the dictators, but every group seems to be minding it's own interests only. And the Burmese, the ruling group, are not willing to give up their control, with or without the military in power.
What will happen in this wonderful land is not easy to guess, although probably change will be slow, to avoid an inter-ethnic bloodshed. And when change will come everybody is ready to jump in. The cultural and artistic treasures, really unique, will be surrounded by fast development like in the rest of Asia, and most of the soul will vaporize. "Freedom" will be costly, right but costly.
Enlightened Burmese know this danger, and demand evolution rather the revolution. But the outside pressure will be too big to hold. China is already building a major containers port on the Indian Ocean and the road to carry it's merchandise there. Thailand is pumping most of the country gas. India is using it's oil. While in here electricity is scarce, gasoline expensive, vehicles 20 years old.
There is this house on the lake in Yangon. Aung San Suu Kyi lives here, less guarded then the houses of her jailers. She represents the contradictions of this nation, but also the right to determine freely everybody's own destiny. As far as the world will let Burmese awake and grow.